By Kristin Battestella
Be it vintage or new, quality or hokey, these pictures are full of unconventional, monstrous, slicing and dicing…romance?
Hannibal – This 2001 sequel to Silence of the Lambs obviously has big shoes to fill. Thankfully and blessedly, Giancarlo Giannini (Casino Royale) is great, and the Italian scenery is flat out awesome. Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) is sleazy and so much fun while the twisted Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) is unrecognizable. Even in the shadow of prior Clarice Starling Oscar winner Jodie Foster, Julianne Moore (The Hours) shapes her own Clarice beautifully. And but of course returning Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins is wonderful. He is without a doubt the star here, and does the most in what seems like less screen time. The one on one dialogue and action sequences are perfect, with fine suspense pacing, intelligentsia horror, class, sexy, and gore. Unfortunately, however great the performances are in getting there, the storyline does meander. Director Ridley Scott’s (Blade Runner) ending is somewhat flat and leaves a ‘What was the point of all this?’ feeling. Nevertheless, I applaud the twisted romantic aspects and creepy for adults only production. Twilight wishes it could be like this.
My Bloody Valentine – There’s more forgettable 1981 interchangeable hokey hicks here- but this time all the juicy gore, unique deaths, and claustrophobic dangers are in a great labyrinthine mine inhabited by a pickaxe wielding killer. The re-inserted deadly details are shocking and sweet, with interesting or askew camerawork, kink, and mystery. However, the scenes are unrestored and noticeably out of place- making a tough viewing for some audiences who expect a bit more polish on blu-ray. Naturally due to the titular Valentine plot twists, I’m not so sure this is a good October or Halloween-esque film. Then again, we could all use a little freaky in our February, for sure. I must say I did predict the killer’s identity before the finale, but it was dang entertaining in getting there nonetheless.
Swamp Thing – There’s a great story here from the DC Comics plots- all kinds of kinky, monster innuendo, power debates, sociological statements, and demented science. I do, however, expect a little more polish from director Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream), as the photography and editing presentation hampers this most. Despite the serious relationships onscreen, numerous and disjointed fade ins or weird slide transitions make this feel like a series of action incidents rather than a cohesive tale. Thankfully, the swampy water and South Carolina locations work wonderfully, and Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog), Ray Wise (Twin Peaks), and the late Dick Durock (also of the Swamp Thing TV series) are a lot of fun. Though he appears to have never been in anything else, Reggie Batts is also a scene-stealing treat as the sarcastic Jude. We can believe Barbeau as the smart, sexy woman who can handle herself, as well- just that dang 1982 mini afro mullet combo hair does not work. Louis Jourdan (Octopussy) is also mustache twisting villainy sweet, even if the monster make-up and the action finale is quite hokey. Fortunately, the uncut version is currently available on Netflix’s Instant Watch, complete with boobs a plenty. And really, I’m so, so tired of forthcoming 3D remake talk!
Wolf – Though this 1994 lycan tale from Oscar winning director Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Silkwood) is imperfect with its fair share of plot holes and unanswered questions, I like it. Face it; this is the best, if not the only, mature wolf movie around. Thanks to the sarcastic and witty performances by Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chinatown, The Shining) and the rest of the all-star cast, Wolf smartly doesn’t take itself too seriously. The beguiling Michelle Pfeiffer (Scarface, The Fabulous Baker Boys), a wonderfully disturbing James Spader (sex, lives, and videotape, Boston Legal), the charming Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music, The Moneychangers), and plenty more on form supporting players are allowed to have their fun. These are all great, big names one wouldn’t usually see in any old horror movie, either. There’s even a good bit of scares and kinky violence here-especially on an initial viewing. Some of the effects are hokey now, but others are very well done with fine spooky build-ups. Despite plotting faults and a little confusion, there’s more good than bad in Wolf. Multiple viewings are even in order to catch all of the subliminal suggestions.
Let Me In – There’s a lot this 2010 remake gets right- the abstract parental photography, disturbing performances, bully storytelling, and creepy mystery. It’s focused scenes with Chloe Moretz (Kick Ass) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) are genuine and well played. However, director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) should have stayed with this unique or what we don’t see youth examination instead of breaking away for over the top deaths and action. Though my niece says the book is very different, this film version seems overlong and too mature for its audience. Do 12 year olds really comprehend all this sex and blood? Yet, this is not for adults and seems too of its age. Where did we get this juvenile horror trend and premature exposure to predators and prey? Cursing, killing, eighties sounds and styles- it all seems absurd for today’s pre-teen. This film is not a ‘vampire romance.’ The players seem advantageous, cruel, manipulative. Does Abby periodically make new 12-year-old friends so they grow old and remain indebted to her? Are we to feel sorry for an old vampire in a child body who likes little boys? Is this supposed to be about innocence and bullying or maturity and vampire souls? The unanswered questions and youth fluff over the adult substance undoes the good for me here.